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Gov’t will ‘fight to ensure tax law is enacted as is’ — official

Cabinet will recommend delay in Parliament extraordinary session to allow more time for dialogue

By Mohammad Ghazal - May 28,2018 - Last updated at May 28,2018

AMMAN — The government will use all its might to defend the income tax draft law as it is presented to the Lower House for approval, a government official said on Monday.

"We will use all our power to defend the bill," Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani told The Jordan Times on Monday.

The minister said the government adopted a multi-pronged approach to explain the law and raise awareness about it to the public including implementing media and communication plans, social media campaigns and outreach plans.

"The law is currently left for the Lower House for discussions…we respect the Chamber's legislative role but will not spare any effort to ensure that the law is endorsed as it was referred," Momani said on Monday.

Meanwhile, a source at the Lower House told The Jordan Times that lawmakers have "some ideas for introducing some amendments to the draft law".

Some of these amendments include keeping the income tax imposed on banks at its current level of 35 per cent and not increasing it to 40 per cent as stipulated by the draft law, the source said.

The source added that there are some discussions for introducing amendments that are related to exemptions granted to families' annual income.

The current draft law, which was sent to the Lower House, exempts families whose yearly income does not exceed JD16,000 and removes an additional exemption of JD4,000 that was given to families in case they provided bills for medical treatment or education.

"There are some discussions at present to keep the additional JD4,000 exemption annually on families income on the condition of providing bills for treatment or education," said the source.

Last week, the government endorsed the income tax draft law, which the government said was part of a comprehensive economic and financial reform drive, reflecting policies that the government adopts to achieve self-reliance and build a strong economy that “strengthens political positions”.

The bill mainly focuses on three aspects: improving tax collection, curbing tax evasion and boosting tax revenues, which are expected to increase by JD300 million annually.

The proposed law seeks to increase the number of income tax payers from 4.5 per cent currently to 10 per cent.

It re-labels tax evasion from a misdemeanour to a felony with harshened penalties of imprisonment and financial fines. 

As expected, the piece of legislation has been received with resistance by several sectors, including professional associations, which plan a limited strike on Wednesday. 

Prime Minister Hani Mulki said after meeting with the heads of associations on Monday that the government “would continue to interact positively with any feedback on the law”, as quoted by the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

He announced that the government would recommend to the King convening the Parliament for an extraordinary session “after two months”, instead of the expected less than one month “to make more room for the dialogue to take place among all stakeholders”.  

Head of the Professional Associations Council Ali Obous, who is also the president of the Jordan Medical Associations, presented the premier with a list of demands they want the government to meet as a prerequisite to call off the planned strike. 

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